The Great Joe Louis Heist

The Great Joe Louis Heist

A few years back we met a man name John, an importer in Michigan, who took an immediate liking to us. He was helping to coordinate getting our beer across the bridge to be sold on shelves across the state (this did happen for a short, relatively unsuccessful period but it's unimportant to this story). On the morning of Boxing Day 2017 he called in a panic and said, "Fellas, Joe Louis Arena needs to get emptied and they’re letting me come in to claim anything that’s leftover but it has to be today. If you guys can make it to Detroit you are free to take what you want."

So we abandoned our families for the day and drove the truck to Detroit. There was a risk of disappointment but the mystery and urgency of it all was too intriguing to pass up.

Upon arrival we immediately felt out of our league. Scores of people who looked much more important than us were hauling items all around the bowels of the arena in a coordinated fashion. We found John and he said, "Go ahead and look for items you need. Just act like you are supposed to be here and if anyone stops you say you're on my team. And don't touch anything that already has names taped to it."

So off we went, finding some nice stainless steel tables and shelves in the lower levels. At one point, while awkwardly carrying a massive shelf towards our truck, a guy with a clipboard and a Joe Louis Staff shirt stopped us and said, "who the hell are you guys?" We said, "We're on John's team." He responded with "Who the fuck is John?" After a few unsuccessful attempts on his walkie-talkie to figure out who John was, something more important came up and he ran off.

By this point we started gaining confidence. If the clipboard guy didn't care, would anybody? The only issue was the lower levels were so picked away that there wasn't much left. We found an elevator that led to the dark upper bowl which was completely deserted. As we walked around the corridor, we knew instantly that we struck gold: massive glass door display fridges, stainless undercover fridges, kegerators, tap towers...

There was only one issue—every item we saw had a "Saved For Brian Rolston" sticker plastered on the front. (For context, Brian Rolston is a former NHLer who grew up near Detroit). Every time we saw an item sparkling in the distance we would sprint towards it only to find another frigging Rolston sticker. But we didn't give up.

It wasn’t until we made it to the complete opposite end that we hit the jackpot: a massive 3-door True display fridge and a bunch of undercounter fridges all in pristine condition. We took the undercounter fridges first, wheeled them all the way back around the bowl to the elevator, down to the bottom, and then all the way back around to the truck. We left the gargantuan display fridge until the end, as it didn't have wheels and we didn't know how to move it. We ended up awkwardly pushing it on the concrete floors and, after 30 minutes of grunting (like in this actual video footage), eventually got it in the elevator. When the doors opened at the bottom, clipboard guy was standing there. We thought we were busted—he's going to make us put this huge thing back and then tell us to empty the truck. But instead he just grabbed the end of it and helped us wiggle it over the lip out onto the floor. Miracle.

We got it loaded and waited for the cherries in the rear view all the way to Sarnia.

the beer fridge

This display fridge has been in our London Rd retail store ever since. Feel free to take it for a lap around the taproom the next time you stop by.

Frigging Rolston.

🤠

Bonus clip: